Between Earth and Sky: The work of Jørn Utzon, as an exemplary phenomenologicalapproach to modern architecture made concrete.

Adrian Carter

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

This paper presents a study of Jørn Utzon, as one of the most profound exponents of a phenomenological approach to modern architecture in the late twentieth century, following on from the visionary work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto and Louis Kahn. According to Christian Norberg-Schulz, in Architecture: Meaning and Place, "Jørn Utzon represents a true continuation of the `new tradition´ opened by theseJørn Utzon represents a true continuation of the `new tradition´ opened by these pioneers. Because of his concrete, phenomenological approach to the world in which we live, he has been able to rescue architecture from the sterile impasse of late-modernism.

In his works the basic elements of lived space become present: the earth, the sky and the `between` of human existence." Jørn Utzon's architecture ranges from the modest to the monumental; from the Kingo courtyard houses, the finest Scandinavian example of humane housing, to the sculptural abstraction and technical innovation of the Sydney Opera House, that has come to define the iconic identity not only of Sydney, but also Australia; from the understated monumentality of the Bagsværd Church with its poetic cloud-like undulating ceiling, through to such visionary unrealised projects as the subterranean Silkeborg Art Museum. Utzon's work embodies a visionary approach to architecture that is site specific and poetic, tectonic and humane; informed by a profound appreciation of nature and diversity of human cultures, as sources of inspiration and analogy, combined with a sense of architecture as art and an innovative approach to the use of technology

In his work, Utzon displays a Nordic sensibility to nature and integrity of design that strives for the attainment of quality in architecture and design, through the simple, honest yet noble synthesis of form, material and function, motivated by social values. To this essentially regional response, Utzon combines a fascination for the architectural legacies of foreign cultures. These influences include the architecture of the ancient Mayan civilisation, as well as the Islamic world, China and Japan.

Utzon achieves a poetic, often monumental and iconic, yet always locally sensitive architecture while subtly utilizing and expanding the meaning of transcultural influences. Jørn Utzon by his own admission likes to work at the "edge of the possible" and has often been ahead of his time. With reference to influential mentors including his tutor Professor Steen Eiler Rasmussen, author of Experiencing Architecture and Alvar Aalto, the paper will examine and present an understanding of Jørn Utzon's exemplary phenomenological approach to architectural design.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchitecture and Phenomenology : Second International Architecture and Phenomenology Conference
EditorsJin Baek
Number of pages13
PublisherEcole francaise d’Extreme-Orient
Publication date2009
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventArchitecture and Phenomenology : Second International Architecture and Phenomenology Conference - Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 26 Jun 200929 Jun 2009

Conference

ConferenceArchitecture and Phenomenology : Second International Architecture and Phenomenology Conference
Country/TerritoryJapan
CityKyoto
Period26/06/200929/06/2009

Keywords

  • Jørn Utzon
  • Modern Architecture
  • Phenonmenology

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